Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reflection vs Refraction

As your photographic skills improve and you start venturing more into light modifiers there are two terms you should understand; reflection and refraction.

Reflection refers to a change in direction of light when they bounce off a substrate. Refraction is the change in the direction of light as it passes through a substrate.

So why should you know these terms? If you work with light modifiers, having an understanding of how they work will help you understand what kind of results you can expect from them. All modifiers used in photography fall under one of these two categories.

In physical space, a light wave will travel in a straight path, from the source of illumination, until one of two things happen. An object in the light path either absorbs it or the object deflects it. Typically all object tend to do both. As light encounters an object, some of the light's color spectrum gets absorbed and the rest gets deflected. What gets deflected is what allows us to see color. How an object deflects light is dependant on the physical structure, or surface makeup, of the object.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Nesting Eagles in Milford

Mondays being one my days off from work I decided to take advantage of a rather nice day and scout some locations for a couple of photography workshops. I took a drive down to a local beach and finding no inspiration ended up traveling South following the Long Island Sound coastline. At one point I ended down a dead end street by an Audubon Society nature center. Half an hour later with nothing of interest in my camera I started packing up to leave. A woman parked in the car next to me commented on my camera (you know the deal) and we started a conversation about photography. She then asked me if I had gotten any pictures of the eagles. Huh, what eagles?

Apparently a pair of eagles had built a nest nearby. She offered to show me the spot and I couldn't pass this down. Fortunately for me I had my long lens with me. A short drive from the nature center and we were there. The nest was set in a ways from the road and the local Dept. of Environmental Protection had posted several keep away signs. Through several layers of winter tree branches we could clearly see the nest. It was obviously a local spectacle as we were soon joined by a few more people including another photographer with an equally long lens. At first I couldn't see any activity but after a few minutes I was able to make out the top of the female's head occasionally peeking out.

By now the sun was starting to set and I was forced to crank up my ISO. I also was having a hard time focusing through the trees. I flipped to manual and hoped for the best considering I was still a distance off from the nest. Oh, and I was using a monopod. Should I mention that the temperature was also dropping? Lack of activity in the nest, the dropping temperature and the waning light was causing me to call it a day and start packing up when my guide cried out, "here he comes!" The male was returning to the nest.

Okay, maybe I'll stay a little while longer.

It must have been feeding time as the male spent some time hovering over the nest. A few more cars stopped to check out the scene including a family with some very mesmerized young kids. After a while the male took to the skies again but only for a short trip to a nearby tree, offering the other photographer and myself a clearer view... of his butt! Go figure.

A crow came by and scolded the eagle as it turned it's powerful beak to a nearby small branch, trying to break it off to bring back to the nest. The branch proved to be tougher than the eagle and he ended up returning to the nest empty beaked.

All in all, it was really cool to be that close to such majestic birds out in the wild. Specially in an area that is not known for being home to these creatures. Thanks to Laura for pointing the nest out to me. I'll have to return to see if I can get some better shots.

Hope you enjoy these shots. Just goes to show what you might encounter if you keep your options open... and a little luck.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Studying past Masters - Gerrit van Honthorst, pt2

The Matchmaker by Gerrit van Honthorst
In the previous article, Studying past Masters - Gerrit van Honthorst, pt1, I introduced you to the chiaroscuro style of painting and discussed how light is used to direct the viewer's eye to the main subject. I also explained how studying the works of many of our great art masters can help improve your photographic education.

In this installment we will analyze the compositional choices of the painting and comparing them with well established photographic practices. So dust off your rule of thirds and let's take a look at The Matchmaker through the eyes on a camera lens.

Studying past Masters - Gerrit van Honthorst, pt1

The Matchmaker by Gerrit van Honthorst
The art world is rich with educational possibilities for a photographer. The grand masters in particular. All one has to do is be open to the potential lessons.

One of the more influential of the art movements in terms of lesson values to a beginner photographer is the Tenebrism style of painting of which the term Chiaroscuro is most commonly associated with it. I won't get into a long explanation of tenebrism and the subsequent chiaroscuro movement here as there are plenty of resources you can use to research on your own. I will, however, explain some of the elements that make it a valuable tool for photographers.

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